Ipswich 4 Barnsley 2: Plenty of positives, insists Heckingbottom

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Grant Ward enjoyed a debut to remember by grabbing a hat-trick from the bench as Ipswich claimed a thrilling 4-2 victory over newly promoted Barnsley.

A largely dismal game burst into life with four goals in the 18 minutes that followed half-time with Ward, a £600,000 signing from Tottenham, scoring with his first touch just 39 seconds after coming on.

Conor Hourihane equalised for Barnsley but Ipswich raced into a 3-1 lead thanks to Ward and a penalty from David McGoldrick in the 63rd minute.

Barnsley threatened a comeback when Marley Watkins headed home in the 74th minute, but Ward completed a dream debut by grabbing the match ball with just six minutes left.

The second-half drama was in stark contrast to a lifeless opening 45 minutes.

Daryl Murphy was denied by a brilliant last-ditch tackle by Marc Roberts while at the other end Tom Bradshaw’s header was well held by Bartosz Bialkowski.

Ipswich went even closer in the 32nd minute when a speculative effort from Adam Hammill almost curled into the far corner from distance.

The breakthrough almost came with seven minutes of the half remaining when a quick counter-attack from Ipswich ended with McGoldrick releasing Freddie Sears, but his shot lacked the power to beat Adam Davies.

It was Barnsley who should have gone in at the interval ahead when a ricochet in the area fell to Bradshaw, but his instinctive shot was brilliantly pushed around the post by Bialkowski.

And they were made to pay just a minute after the restart when Murphy nodded down Jonas Knudsen’s long throw and debutant Ward, who came on at half-time, drilled the ball in.

But just three minutes later the visitors were level once again after taking advantage of some poor defending in the heart of the Ipswich defence, a spot of head tennis ending with Watkins laying it off for Hourihane to beat Bialkowski.

Ipswich regained their lead in the 61st minute when Murphy’s cross was headed out by Alfie Mawson but Ward was on hand to almost nonchalantly drill the ball inside Davies’ near post.

And within two minutes it was three when Murphy was bundled over in the box by the combined efforts of Andy Yiadom and Roberts, McGoldrick calmly side-footing the spot-kick into the corner.

Barnsley gave themselves a lifeline when Hourihane’s brilliant inswinging free-kick was buried in the corner by the head of Watkins.

But the points were made safe six minutes from time when Ward capped a perfect afternoon by firing in a low left-footed drive when a corner was only half cleared.

Manager Paul Heckingbottom admitted there was a big difference between the second and third tiers of English football.

He said: “You have seen the difference there. There were lots of positives we can take from the game when we review it, but they have had six shots and scored four times.

“The message in the dressing room is that we have to learn from that, both in terms of the goals we conceded and the clinical nature of Ipswich.

“The goals we conceded were disappointing, we were slow to get out and stop shots, and we wouldn’t normally concede like that. I can guarantee we won’t as the season goes on.

“But there were positives. The players know they can cope at this level and that they belong here, while we had more than 1,000 fans who were fantastic. They know they have a team who give everything.”

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